The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) administers the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and maintains the IT programs/systems and verification process for filing and paying unemployment insurance claims. This also includes management and payment of the federally funded enhanced benefit programs – PUA, PEUC and FPUC – provided as part of COVID stimulus plans. Below are the latest payment updates and see the comments forum below this article for some helpful guidance from those in a similar situation to you.
Covered in this Article:
Early End to Federal Unemployment Benefits
Following in the footsteps of several other states to address a worker shortage, Tennessee has ended pandemic unemployment programs and associated benefits, like the $300 weekly boost, early. All benefits ended as of week ending July 3rd, 2021. This was several weeks ahead of the Biden APRA funded extension till September 4th, 2021.
Only regular state unemployment or funded programs would be available to unemployed workers from the week of July 4th, 2021.
Note that a group of Tennesseans are suing Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee to reinstate benefits until their official expiry. The 2000+ claimant/advocate group is called Tennesseans Against Ending Benefits, and you can find them on Facebook to get more details or to join the cause.
25-week Unemployment Program Extensions Under Biden ARP Stimulus Package (Mar 15, 2021 to Sep 6, 2021)
Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enhanced unemployment benefits will be extended until September 6th. This includes the following extensions:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The PUA program, designed for freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors or those that generally don’t qualify for regular state unemployment, has been extended by another 29 weeks (actual duration of extension is 25 calendar weeks). This brings the total number of covered weeks in the program to 79. The minimum PUA payment is still 50% of a states average weekly benefit amount and limited to the state’s maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA).
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – The new stimulus bill funds another 25 weeks of weekly supplementary/extra unemployment at the current $300 level. Payments for the $300 weekly payment will continue until early September for a total of 25 weeks and eligible claimants – those getting at least $1 from state and federal unemployment programs – can get a maximum of $7,500 if they qualify for all weeks covered in this new extension. The other $100 supplementary payment for Mixed Earners (MEUC) was also extended by 25 weeks.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – The PEUC program, which extends coverage for those who have exhausted regular and extended state unemployment, has also been extended for another 29 weeks, bringing the total amount of PEUC coverage to 53 weeks. The actual duration of extension is 25 calendar weeks.
There also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits.
Tennessee Payment Status of the 2021 Unemployment Program Extensions (PUA, PEUC and FPUC)
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package (CAA) was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to April 5th, 2021 (no new claims after March 14th, 2021). To receive the extra $300 FPUC weekly benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA.
The following are updates that have been made per recent news.
TN LWD Update Feb 1st, 2021: Claimants who exhausted their federal pandemic unemployment benefits after December 26, 2020, should have new benefit balances (covering the 11-week extension) added to their PUA and PEUC claims.
If the claimant exhausted benefits on or prior to December 26, they can attempt to complete a certification. If the claimant is unable to certify and the system prompts them to file a claim, they should proceed and complete the refiling process.
Claimants can go back and certify for missed weeks. They are required to provide work searches for each of the weeks they certify to receive unemployment benefits.
To anyone that’s having issues certifying I just got off the phone with TN unemployment and they fixed my claim over the phone certified me for 6 weeks retroactively all the way until the 9th of January. They also told me that if you haven’t certified in more than 2 weeks to call them to manually fix your claim
UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed (see potential scenarios where you need to take action to get benefits under the new extension)
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims if their state UI systems have been updated for the extended coverage period.
- Claimants will receive retroactive payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
I will post additional details as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned for updates.
Can I talk to someone around getting extended benefits?
At this stage it is very hard to get a hold of anyone to talk to about your claim. They will share updates as soon as possible on the extensions and revision of the current programs. Until that time, they are asking the
public to please hold questions and refrain from calling our local offices or Hotline with questions regarding the extensions or changes. Soon, claimants will receive notices with information specific to their UI claim status.